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Save your life: Review of Maxtor 4 Plus Safety Drill Software

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Save your life:
Review of Maxtor 1TB 4 Plus Safety Drill Software
Or – Safety Drill vs EZ Gig II

Another story from the “We wasted (invested) our money in this so you don’t have to.

pctv_1tb“Save your life” – that is the tag line on the Maxtor One Touch 4 Plus 1 Terabyte (1,000 GB) drive and associated software.  The Plus in the One Touch 4 Plus means that it comes with Safety Drill.  Safety Drill is software that can back up and restore an image of your hard drive.

An image of a hard drive is different than a file backup.  Basically, the image is a pile of bits that represents all the data on the drive.  For some software that does image backups the image is opaque meaning that you can’t look inside the pile of bits that is the image backup and see individual files.  This is the case with the safety drill image backup that is created with the backup software supplied by the Maxtor One Touch 4 Plus drives.

Old Concept – New implementation and disappointing feature set

The Maxtor Safety Drill software derives from a long line of image backup software .  It is nothing new in concept or underlying technology.  This concept goes back at least three decades starting with Norton Ghost in the 1980’s

To get to the bottom line on Safety Drill we were very disappointed at the lack of features and sophistication of this software in a mature market of such products.

Maxtor Safety Drill

Specifically, it was disappointing against the product we got for “free” with an external drive we bought about a year ago.  Here are some specific points:

  1. Safety Drill will back up your hard drive but you can’t select a particular partition.  If you have multiple partitions you have to back them all up – no choice.  Some folks have a C partition with the Operating System and use the D drive for a data drive.  You can’t pick and choose what partitions to back up.  If you have a large drive sometimes it does not make sense to image the whole disk.
  2. You can’t look inside the image and restore individual files.  Image backup software going back to Norton Ghost allowed one to do this.  That is, you could do a file or folder restore from an image file.  This makes image backups dual purpose – restore the whole image of restore a particular file.  Maxtor Safety Drill does not allow looking inside the image.
  3. Large image backup files.  Hey, you have a Terabyte.  Doesn’t matter.  The image created by Safety Drill was about 30% larger than the identical image backup make by another product.
  4. Only works with Windows and Macs.  If you have Linux – you are out of luck
  5. Image restore must restore the whole drive.  Does not allow one to restore a particular partition.  Consistent with the image backup – its all or nothing.
  6. The Linux-based (Knoppix) takes a long time to boot.  There are no tools or utilities other than to restore the whole disk image.  Maxtor could have at least thrown in a utility to validate the image before restore.
  7. You always need the restore disk.  To restore an image you boot off a disk that you get with the product.  You can not image restore from the installed Safety Drill software.
  8. You can’t delete the @#$%@ Safety Drill images using the Safety Drill software.  You can set a maximum amount of space on the drive used by Safety Drill but it does not allow you to manage the individual files.  This is a major disappointment.

Until we got the Maxtor One Touch 4 Plus we were using Apricon EZ Gig II – which was provided for free with an external drive that we purchased.  Generally “free” software is feature poor – not so with EZ Gig II.  Our use of EZ Gig set the standards for what expected from Maxtor Safety Drill.

Apricorn EZ Gig II

Why we like eZ Gig II better than Safety Drill

  1. Choice of partitions to back up. You can choose the individual partitions to backup or backup the whole drive.
  2. Treat the image as a virtual drive and acccess individual files. eZ Gig allows you to mount the image backup and treat it like a virtual hard drive.  In fact, that is what the image file really is.  Its a virtual drive that you can mount just like a network drive.  This allows one to drag and drop files and folders out of the image to inspect them or restore them.
  3. Notes to document the image contents. Allows you to write extensive notes or comments that are carried with the image. This is useful to describe exactly what is in the image.  If you create a lot of images this is useful.  Before you mount the image for inspection or restore you can inspect the comments.  For image restore read the comments to make sure you are restoring what you think you are restoring.
  4. Choice of compression ratios. Choices of compression ratios – you get three choices.  Higher compression takes longer but generally results in a smaller image file.
  5. Integrity Checks. You have the ability to integrity check an image backup.  Do this after a backup or before a restore to make sure the image integrity is intact.  Restore a bad image and good chance that computer will not boot.
  6. Disk Clone – disk to disk. eZGig allows you to clone a disk – that is make a copy of one disk to another disk.  A useful utility for some circumstances.
  7. Backup/Restore time calculation. eZGig calculates a time estimate (hrs and minutes) when it will be completed.  Safety Drill just provides a percent complete.
  8. Can image Linux filesystems. EZ Gig can backup many different file systems including Linux.  Maxtor Safety Drill only understands Windows and Mac file systems.
  9. Image Restore without a CD. The EZ Gig software that is installed on your PC can initiate a image restore on any drive including the C drive on a one drive system.  EZ Gig knows that the C drive is in use as the system drive but is smart enough to tell you this and then reboot your PC with the standalone software.  This is similar to Norton Ghost.  Ghost accomplishes this by making a temporary partition, changing the boot code, booting the restore software, and then cleaning this up.  We did not investigate how Apricom EZ Gig boots for image restore out of a running system without a external CD but we suspect that it works similar to the way Norton Ghost has implemented this feature.

Just as a side note on EZ Gig II, before we had this software we trial tested Acronis True Image.  Acronis is definitely a full featured product at a full-featured price.  From the look and feel of True Image it looks like EZ Gig is derivative of this product.  Perhaps there was a licensing agreement of the underlying technology.  True image is licensed by PC.  EZ Gig can be used on as many PC’s as you like, there is no license key and no activation or registration required.


We were very disappointed with Safety Drill feature of the Maxtor backup software that is included with the Maxtor One Touch PLUS drives.  Our disappointment is simply with the lack of features and sophistication of this image backup software in a mature market of about three decade of such software,  Major disappointment to the point we need to give Safety Drill a grade of F minus.  “Go directly to Jail; do not pass go; do not collect $200 ”

It looks like Maxtor did Safety Drill “from scratch”.  They would have done much better to license an existing mature product (like Acronis True Image) reduce the feature set (so as not to compete) and then integrate this existing technology with their Maxtor backup suite.

If you have no image backup software and the Maxtor PLUS drives are at the right price point then we could (barely) recommend this as the most basic drive imaging software.  Definitely no frills and truly low end to the max.

We cringle that anyone has to use the Safety Drill software when there are vastly more sophisticated image software on the market.  Take a look at Acronis True Image Home (see Resources at the bottom)

Why Image rather than backup?

The real advantage of disk imaging (no matter what software you use) over file backup is for disaster revovery in the event that your operating system gets corrupted, cracked, trojan’d, whacked, snacked, or otherwise hacked – or, if your hard drives crashed due to a hardware failure or filesystem corruption.  It could happen to you when you least expect it.

Having a recent image backup can provide you the easy capability of getting a working system back without untangling what some malware has done to your system.  These days operating systems are so complex that it is simply easier to do an image restore than to untangle a mess at the operating system level.  A typical 3 GB system restore as tested on a modern computer using EZ Gig was about 20 minutes.  You may spend ten times this untangling a malware attack.  The risk is that even if you think you have untangled a hack to your system you may never know if you got it all.

The strategy is to keep images of known good systems as restore points.  Dividing your hard drive into multiple partitions can facilitate this restoration process.  For example, keep the operating system and programs on the C partition. Put all your data files (pictures, music, documents, data, etc) on other partitions.

This strategy keeps the C partition small which can be imaged in a short amount of time and has a small image footprint.  Backup your data partition(s) with a traditional file and folder based backup system – especially one that retains versions of files.  This is a real plus over file-based backup systems that do not keep version.  The file based backup software also included with the Maxtor drives supports versions.

With all that said  –  “Save your (digital) life” – is an essential strategy no matter what software you use.

We are going to stay with eZ Gig II.  Safety Drill?  Thanks, but no thanks.  Shame on you Maxtor!  You are way behind the curve on this one.  We expect more from the Maxtor brand.


User guide for the Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus

EZ Gig II User Manual

Hardcore serious people would want to consider Acronis True Image –

Snagged from another site

We generally like using professional branded software.  But if you must, there are plenty of free backup solutions out there.  We snagged this roundup from:

Note:  The content between the horizontal rules are copied from another site.  When we take a chunk of original content from another site we cite that site.  We have placed a link in this posting but broken the ability to click on the link to get there.

There reason for this is that this site dropped a ton of tracking cookies on our machine which was spotted and removed by McAffe Enterprise.  So if you want to go to that site be aware of this.  Since we removed the link you will have to cut and paste into a browser to get there.  Taking this overt act you acknowledge that you know these tracking cookies will be dropped on your PC.  (see note above before going to this site)

Making sure you’ve got a reliable backup solution is a must for any user – and more so for an administrator. Why? Well, mostly because your users probably aren’t very good at remembering to back up their own files. And so it falls to you to provide the right software for the job!

Backup software is a difficult category to tackle nowadays as the distinction between backup and synchronization apps has become a little blurred. Prices being what they are, my personal choice is to use external or removable hard drives for my backup chores – my current favorites are Bonkey and Cobian.

To make sure you’ve got plenty of options to choose from, I’ve split this list into three different categories so that you can choose from the options that are best suited to your environment.

Integrated Burning

Comodo Backup [win]
They do make than a great firewall. Comodo Backup is an excellent free solution. It has extremely flexible scheduling and notification options, supports FTP destinations, can burn multisession DVDs, and has a synchronization mode for quick realtime backups.

DFIncBackup [win]
As is the case with most backup applications, there’s a free and paid version. The free one still handles CD/DVD backups, and it also does incremental .zip jobs as well – only backing up files that have changed or weren’t present in your previous job.

SE Backup [win]
Sports a very simple interface, does CD and DVD burning and compression, and is available as a portable application. Scheduling isn’t built in, but it supports command line launching with parameters which works very well with Windows’ own Task Scheduler.

File Copy

Though it’s no longer developed, Abakt is still a great choice. It’s got a great file filtering system, supports 7zip and zip compression, file splitting, password protection, and does differential and incremental backups.

Areca [win]
Free, open source, and wicked powerful. Areca is loaded with features: compression, encryption, simulation, merging, transaction commit/rollback, filtering, and more. It’s command line interface provides excellent automation options and Areca also supports scripting of post-job actions.

[win] [mac]
The “Backup Monkey.” If I was giving points for best mascot, this one would be a clear winner.

Bonkey runs on both Windows and Mac, and has a lot of great features. It supports email, FTP, and Amazon S3, compression, encryption, scheduling, and synchronization. It’ll even back up MS SQL server databases.

Cobian Backup [win]
Apart from being a great application, Cobian’s developer has an excellent tutorial online to help you get started. Though it is no longer open source, you may still download the last version that was (v8). There’s also a portable version.

One of my favorite features of Cobian is its ability to handle pre- and post- job events. I use it to issue net stop and net start commands to ensure safe backups of our horrible, horrible point-of-sale system. Cobian also has the ability to control and monitor all its instances on your network from your own workstation.

JaBack [win] [mac]
Allows backup to FTP and email (as well as any drive on your computer or network), and sports a flexible scheduler. It also has a file monitor function that will perform backup operations whenever changes are detected.

Mathusalem [mac]
Offers FTP/SFTP, Amazon S3, WebDav, and SMB support for backups on OSX. Mathusalem can compress to zip and dmg, will resume failed uploads, and supports scheduling and command line launching. It’s also open source.


Bacula [win] [mac] [linux]
Bacula is an enterprise grade network backup solution that runs on just about every platform imagineable. It’s a much more complex system than the other options I’ve mentioned, but is extremely powerful and well-suited to a medium or large scale network.

BackupPC [win] [linux]
A Linux-based, client-free enterprise solution for backing up Windows and Linux machines. BackupPC uses SMB, tar, and rsync to extract backup data from client computers. It ‘s got a powerful web-based interface for administrators and users, and will even email reminders to users that have been remiss in performing backups.

It’s a very flexible solution, and is open source.

NasBackup [win] [linux]
Uses a simple Windows GUI and rsync to perform backups from client machines to a central server. It’ll do incremental backups, scheduling, compression, encryption, and the server offers useful per-client controls like limiting the number of versions to store and expiration dates. It also provides daily summaries via email.

Restore [win] [mac] [linux]
The self-proclaimed “reason backup was invented.” It’s definitely a great product, and full of terrific features. Its web interface is very easy to understand and use – and makes it easy for the mobile admin to monitor and control Restore from anywhere.

Restore supports FTP, WebDav, SSH/SFTP, and multiple revisions. It also provides powerful admin tools, making it easy to create and control users, groups, jobs, and scheduling.

The above copied from:


Written by frrl

December 4, 2008 at 2:40 am

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